I would like to be “unique.” I would like to be “extraordinary.” I can’t say that I necessarily want to be “weird.”
I am a people pleaser. Being accepted, valued, and liked is far more important to me than it should be. I worry about these things a lot, especially when meeting people for the first time (hello moving to a new city). So, I have this tendency to become a chameleon – I read my audience and evaluate what they value, and then I either emphasize or downplay certain aspects of who I am accordingly. Gold star for me, right? I win them over. But at what cost?
I just finished reading Weird by Craig Groeschel. His book focuses mostly on being “weird” in a Christian way, but some of what he says really rings true in all areas of life. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
Pursuing the approval others “sends us on a wild-goose chase for a golden egg that doesn’t exist. If the approval of others is all we live for, it will never be enough. We also lose something else in pursuit of this illusion: respect for ourselves and consistency of character. If we repeatedly choose to act in ways that contradict our beliefs and values, we undermine our own authenticity and integrity…we end up compartmentalizing fragments of our lives and then wondering why we don’t feel whole.”
What does this have to do with being weird? The perception is that if you are labeled weird, people won’t like or accept you. Conform to the norm, or be condemned to being on the outside looking in. I am feeling particularly vulnerable about this right now because I am in a new city where I don’t know very many people.
I find my values and priorities are different from a lot of people’s. My co-workers think it’s weird that I am so into CrossFit and that I place such a high priority on eating healthy and training (especially when it interferes with happy hour). In a town where drinking is the city-wide pastime, I feel like the oddball if I don’t go out and get wasted every weekend. I’m 28 years old and single, which frequently prompts the question, “What’s wrong with you that you don’t have a man?” and generates “cat-lady” jokes at my expense constantly. Faith is a very important part of my life and influences my attitudes and decisions about pretty much everything, often in opposition to what the societal norms are. So, I am “weird” in some way to someone about pretty much everything.
Up until this point, I have made compromises and concessions. I will skip a WOD I have been dying to do because I am worried my new co-workers will be upset with me if I leave happy hour early. I will go to the bar because I am worried the people I am with will think I’m boring or uptight if I don’t, or that I will be missing out if I call it a night early. I will only share my faith with people who I know share it too because I don’t want people to think I’m some kind of zealot or goody two-shoes. Living that way is exhausting. I refuse to continue to compartmentalize who I am and what my values are based on who I’m with and what the situation is. Those things should not waver; they should be stable and constant. They are the foundation of who I am.
The funny thing is the people I admire the most are “weird” by conventional standards. It is because of the things that make them weird that I respect them. Their passions, their values, their willingness to be extraordinary – in one way or another, it requires them to reject the status quo in some way. And I love them for it.
Time to get weird, y’all.